Polyfest the essence of Auckland
The world’s largest Maori and Pacific Island festival has been launched by an emotional Mayor Len Brown who says it symbolises the ‘‘essence’’ of Auckland.
The 38th annual ASB Polyfest – an opportunity for students to celebrate and share their cultural heritage with the public – was launched at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
About 9000 students from across the Auckland region will take part in the festival, which runs from March 13 to 16 at the Manukau Sports Bowl.
It will feature traditional songs, dances and speeches from Maori and Polynesian cultures.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Brown – who is the patron of Polyfest – said the festival always makes him proud to be an Aucklander.
‘‘These are the days when I know I love our city unreservedly.’’
Polyfest is a true success story, blossoming from just four schools taking part in the inaugural event in 1976 to 59 schools today.
‘‘It is an amazing story of growth and a wonderful display of the essence of our city, which is the largest Pacific and Maori city in the world.’’
Event director Theresa Howard says participating in the 2001 festival as a student gave her a sense of pride and confidence in her Samoan and Maori heritage.
‘‘Through discipline and under great guidance, I learnt about leadership, being humble and understood what my own culture is about.’’
The event encourages students to get creative and express their tradition and culture in their own way.
‘‘Taking part on stage and wearing your full school uniform so proudly around the Manukau Sports Bowl demonstrates true pride, a sense of belonging and belief.’’
The festival incorporates Maori, Tongan, Samoan, Niuean and Cook Islands stages, as well as a Diversity Stage showcasing a range of other cultures.
Manurewa’s James Cook High School is head school or kura matua this year.
The theme the school has selected for this year’s festival is ‘‘The gifts of Papatuanuku are a koha to the people. Cherish and care for them’’.
Into it: James Cook High School students kick off the Polyfest launch with a haka.
Poly motion: James Cook High School students perform a poi dance at the Polyfest launch.
Proud patron: Mayor Len Brown says Polyfest is an ‘‘amazing’’ story of growth.